News in Brief 17 August 2017

Africa:

Africa: POP clouds - Gilat Telecom is now concentrating on its managed services portfolio and has developed a number of managed value-add services specifically for the African telecom market. A customised dashboard provides a live view of the data protection status on all hardware and enables protection failures to be easily identified and corrected. The dashboard also establishes back-up and retention rules that can be applied to all systems. A public cloud has been constructed in its POPs in Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda, where it has local subsidiaries. From these clouds, Gilat Telecom and its partners will be providing a range of services, starting with the Data Protection service.

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Cameroon: Satellite sales tour - From 7 August 2017 satellite Internet access provider GoSat has initiated a 1,000 km road show to demonstrate its satellite broadband Internet connection services to people in rural areas, notably in Littoral and West regions, TIC Mag reported. The tour takes in 12 cities over a 10-day period. GoSat's CEO Casimir Fotso Chatue said loctions being visited include Njombe-Penja in Dschang, through Nkongsamba, Bana, Bafang, Baham, Bandjoun and Foumbot. The satellite kit for the high-speed Internet connection costs XAF 190,000 (USD 342). However, GoSat is offering the kit free of charge with a two-year contract. Monthly charges are XAF 5,000 - 10,000 (USD 9 - 18) depending on the type of package.

Gabon: Phased programme - On 8 August 2017 in Ongame, Estuaire Province, Minister of Digital Economy, Communication, Culture and Arts Alain Claude Bilie-By-Nze officially launched a programme to link 2,700 villages to communication networks, including mobile networks and the Internet. The aim is to reduce the white areas not covered by private mobile operators. The programme will consist of several phases, the first of which was launched on 8 August 2017. According to Serge Essongue of the L'Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (ARCEP) the first phase, is to "connect 100 first villages, on average 13 per province, where there is absolutely no network", the Gabon Review reported. The programme is financed by the Universal Service Fund, which is funded by a levy on all operators. Ongame is described as a small isolated village in the heart of the equatorial forest, whose inhabitants live on fishing and farming but are virtually cut off from telephone and Internet networks.

Ghana: Pilgrim package - Airtel Ghana has launched a special Hajj Bundle offering a 200 percent discount on calls for Hajj Pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. The bundle comes with 100 minutes of free incoming calls to Ghana with subscribers roaming either on Zain or STC Saudi Arabia whilst in Mecca. Family and friends of pilgrims can make up to 10 free calls to Saudi Arabia and enjoy amazing discounts on voice, data and SMS over a 30 day period.

Ghana: Share sale - The shares in Kasapa Telecom Limited (Expresso Ghana) held by Sudan Telecom (Sudatel) have been reportedly sold to an unknown buyer, Adom News has reported. The company's 2016 Third Quarter Financial Report dated September 2016 and published November 2016 on its Website shows that shares held in Kasapa Telecoms in 2015 was 82 percent but shares held in 2016 were zero. In its 2014 Fourth Quarter Financial Report Sudatel said that in 2013 it had entered into a share purchase agreement (SPA) with an unknown buyer, and the buyer had initially paid USD 5 million for an 18 percent stake. The remaining 82 per cent shares were transferred to an escrow agent.

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Mauritius: Court awards compensation - The Supreme Court of Mauritius has ruled that mobile operator Emtel is to receive MUR 554 million (USD 16 million) in damages in a case involving unfair competition, Agence Ecofin reported. Emtel was seeking MUR 1.1 billion, claiming that Mauritius Telecom abused its dominant position in 1996, when it was accused of operating under the Cellplus brand without a valid mobile licence. The case also involved regulator ICTA and the Ministry of Telecommunications, who were accused by Emtel of having failed to protect its interests at the time. Both Mauritius Telecom and regulator ICTA were found guilty by the Supreme Court.

Nigeria: Regulatory rebuke - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has written to Globacom Nigeria instructing it to desist in its plan to offer free data to all subscribers on 11 August 2017, the Daily Post has reported. The regulator claims that the promotion was not in line with what it approved in its letter dated 14 March 2017. Eligible subscribers were to enjoy as much as 200 megabytes of free data in what was dubbed 'free data day'. NCC has summoned Globacom's CEO Gladys Talabi to a meeting at the its headquarters in Abuja on 17 August 2017.

Nigeria: SME forum - MTN and Tricom Experiential Projects have hosted SME operators and entrepreneurs to a capacity-building workshop, the Guardian reported. Held in Ibadan, it was dubbed 'Creating Value for SMEs in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous Environment' and included master classes and key presentations by business owners, SME operators and others from both the private and public sectors.

Nigeria: Tablet tuition - The Kaduna State government has commenced training of some 13,000 senior secondary school teachers in ICT, in preparation for the roll-out of tablets to schools next month, This Day reported. The Deputy Director, Schools in the state ministry of education, Idris Aliyu said the training was initiated under the state's e-learning project.

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Nigeria: Tower take down - Some 95 telecommunication towers have been decommissioned by the Lagos State Government, through its State Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency, LASIMIRA, Nigeria Today reported. Some 20 other towers are also slated for decommissioning over illegal installation and non-compliance with regulatory standards. LASIMIRA is reported to have concluded arrangements to carryout comprehensive regulatory inspection and standards compliance audits of all telecommunication masts base stations and towers in the state. The move follows the collapse of a building with an illegal and unapproved roof-top mast on Massey Street, Lagos Island about two weeks ago which killed several people.

Nigeria: Undergraduate Wi-Fi - A free Wi-Fi service for universities is being rolled out by Cyberspace Networks, The Vanguard reported. The 'Surfwella' service is being initially launched at the University of Abuja, and will be expanded to Lagos State University, College of Agric, Lafiaji, and the University of Lagos. The company said the service is part of its corporate social responsibility programme.

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Nigeria: Unregistered SIMs - The Nigerian Telecommunications Commission (NCC) has urged mobile operators to block pre-registered SIM cards, The Nation Online reported. The NCC's Deputy Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, Alhjaji Ismail Adedigba at the regulator's 87th consumer outreach in Port Harcourt, expressed surprise when told such SIMs were still available, and added: 'a severe punishment awaits any provider whose network is still carrying pre-registered SIM cards.' Representatives from MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9mobile (formerly Etisalat) were present, and heard complaints about poor network connectivity, the sending of unsubscribed messages and the imposing of charges on unsubscribed messages, and the activation of pre-registered SIMs. The four promised to do better.

South Africa: Schemes to be checked - The Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Commission has said that it has started investigations into potential violations of the B-BBEE Act relating to the B-BBEE ownership structures and non-compliance with the Codes of Good Practice. Nokia and MTN are two of the companies to be investigated and have been notified of the investigation. They have 30 days to respond after the Commission publishes its findings. MTN's Zakhele scheme will be checked to see if it meets the requirements for black ownership, as will Nokia's sale of shares to an employee trust.

Zimbabwe: Suburban service centre - A new customer service centre has been opened in Harare's northwestern suburb of Mabelreign by Econet Wireless. CEO Douglas Mboweni said the facility would improve service also for surrounding areas such as Bluff Hill, Greencroft and parts of Emerald Hill.

Middle East:

Afghanistan: Farmer finance - Cellulant Nigeria Ltd is to deploy its AgriKore mobile platform as a result of winning a government tender. The platform will provide access to financial services, productivity enhancement technologies, good farming practices, agricultural inputs and markets. The contract was signed by Bolaji Akinboro, co-founder of Cellulant Corporation, and the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock. Akinboro said it would work with the government to capture inputs for a million farmers in the next 90-120 days.

Bahrain: Enhanced gaming - Batelco has partnered with games companies Valve and i3D.net to improve services for gamers. The two partnerships will facilitate direct peering to Valve's Steam platform and i3D.net, to offer gamers low latency, high performance gaming. Steam is the world's largest online gaming platform. Award-winning i3D.net specialises in low latency hosting for the online video gaming industry and will provide online infrastructure services and managed hosting solutions to Batelco to improve services for gamers.

Bahrain: Placement students - Batelco is to provide career support to over 60 students under its annual Summer Internship Programme in July and August. The students involved are currently working in different departments including Network, Enterprise, Call Centre, Sales and Marketing and Human Resources. Batelco general manager Human Resources and Corporate Services Ebru Pilav explained that the skills covered include communication, team work and taking initiatives as well as learning about the importance of timeliness when completing tasks, among more skills.

Lebanon: Budget cut - The Daily Star has reported that the Parliamentary Finance and Budget Committee has cut some USD 100 million from the proposed budget for the Ministry of Telecommunications, and so putting approval of the budget on hold until further notice, committee chair MP Ibrahim Kanaan announced on Thursday last week.

Qatar: Self-service smartphones - A new generation of Ooredoo Self-Service Machines (SSMs) have been launched by Ooredoo Qatar, which offer a range of services including smart device vending. It said the SSM is a first of its kind in Qatar and will be located in airports and shopping centres. Users can also pay Ooredoo Shahry and Kahramaa bills, top up their Hala accounts, and purchase vouchers for shopping and dining with popular brands.

Saudi Arabia: Fair usage fingered - The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has temporarily suspended the services of Saudi Telecommunication Co. (STC), Mobily and Zain's offices in Riyadh, Arab News has reported. Violations appear to relate to the implementation of the regulator's decision on consumer protection. The authority, in coordination with the Ministry of Commerce and Investment, confirmed that no lenience will be shown toward violators, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. A senior official from Mobily has said that the commission has issued guidelines, which the mobile network operators have apparently failed to implement. An STC official noted that the move was in line with the so-called fair-usage policy.

United Arab Emirates: Popular player - UAE-based operator Etisalat says goodwill amounted to AED 14.65 billion during the first half of the year, up from AED 14.09 billion in the same period in 2016, the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported. The company has kept its lead position in the UAE, and also in the Gulf and Middle East region. Etisalat said its total assets rose to AED 124.5 billion (USD 33.9 billion) in the first half of 2017, a 1.6 percent growth from the same period last year when they were valued at AED 122.5 billion (USD 33.3 billion).